BWW Interview: Joe Bailey & Brandy Joe Plambeck of MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE! (EXCEPT CHRISTINA) at The Ringwald Theatre
The Ringwald Theatre is always throwing surprising twists at their audiences and this holiday season is no different. Taking a break from their usual SantaLand Diaries, they are ready to bring on the laughs with Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina), a brand-new play - think of it as a Mommie Dearest Christmas - the perfect Christmas spoof we never knew we needed until now! It weaves together Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, A Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Mommie Dearest, and your other gay and/or Christmas favorites. It's a big gay Christmas gift from your favorite Ferndale theatre that is directed by Dyan Bailey and stars Joe Bailey as Joan Crawford, Richard Payton as The Ghosts, Brandy Joe Plambeck as Christina Crawford, and Kevin Kaminski as Christopher Crawford. BroadwayWorld Detroit had a chance to speak with founders and married couple of The Ringwald Theatre, Joe Bailey and Brandy Joe Plambeck, to discuss the theatre, the show, and campy twists that everyone always expects from The Ringwald - the best part about the interview, BWW Detroit spoke with them each separately, so it was really fun to see where they think alike and differ!
BroadwayWorld Detroit: Can you give our readers a brief background of The Ringwald Theatre as an introduction?
Joe Bailey: The Ringwald Theatre opened in May of 2007. We are currently in our 12th season and it's just been such a dream to bring these stories to our audiences. We've done everything from The Golden Girls Musical to August: Osage County to Heathers: The Musical. Brandy Joe and I have been here from the start!
Brandy Joe Plambeck: Joe Bailey and I met touring back in 2003 and have been together ever since. We came to Michigan to start a theatre company and in the spring of 2007, we opened the doors to The Ringwald in Ferndale. It has been amazing and we have produced over 100 productions in our 11+ years since the doors have been open. Working with my husband is one of the greatest joys in my life and being able to share the stage with him is awesome. He is the funniest person I know and it's incredibly hard to not bust up while working alongside him in a show like this.
BWW Detroit: How would you describe Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) in your own words?
Joe Bailey: Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) is sort of a Mommie Dearest - A Christmas Carol. Joan Crawford has hit a rough patch in her life and on Christmas Eve is visited by three spirits who will try their darnedest to get her life back on track!
Brandy Joe Plambeck: This show is a mash-up of Mommie Dearest and A Christmas Carol. It's a hilarious holiday romp.
BWW Detroit: Joe, how would you describe your character, Joan Crawford?
Joe Bailey: My Joan Crawford is really based on the Faye Dunaway interpretation from the classic film, Mommie Dearest. Now, please know that I love and adore Joan Crawford. She is my absolute favorite of the old-timey Hollywood actresses, but I, also, love Faye Dunaway's gonzo performance.
BWW Detroit: Joe, did you do any special preparation for the role?
Joe Bailey: I tend to be able to slip into the character pretty easily. The hardest thing is finding clothes. When you're a lady of certain size, or a man of a certain size trying to fit into ladies' clothes, it can be a challenge.
BWW Detroit: Joe, do you see any similarities between your character of Joan Crawford and yourself?
Joe Bailey: Oh gosh! I hope not! Other than supplying Detroit audiences with a healthy dollop of camp - I hope that is where the similarities begin and end.
BWW Detroit: Brandy Joe, how would you describe your character, Christina Crawford?
Brandy Joe Plambeck: Christina is the bane of her mother's existence and, boy, does she know it. Any chance Joan has to belittle her or degrade her, she does. Regardless of how she is treated, Christina is always trying to win her mother's love.
BWW Detroit: Brandy Joe, did you do any special preparation for the role?
Brandy Joe Plambeck: A few years ago, we did a show called Mommie Queerest and I played Christina, so I am quite comfortable in her skin! At that time, I watched the movie over and over; both to study and to enjoy because it is so deliciously campy and fun!
BWW Detroit: Brandy Joe, do you see any similarities between your character of Christina Crawford and yourself?
Brandy Joe Plambeck: We're both blonde and beautiful.
BWW Detroit: What makes Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) special?
Joe Bailey: Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) is a healthy, heaping portion of holiday camp. We're all looking very forward to getting it up in front of an audience and just having a rip-roaring, good Yuletide time!
Brandy Joe Plambeck: It is always awesome to share the stage with my husband. It is also written "in-house" so it is a lot of fun to be a part of the creation process with the hilarious and talented minds we work with.
BWW Detroit: Why did The Ringwald decide to go with something new the year instead of the holiday mainstay of SantaLand Diaries?
Joe Bailey: We had produced SantaLand Diaries every December since we opened our doors 11 years ago. The year before last, Brandy Joe and I decided to retire from the show. Last year, we brought in Richard Payton who killed every performance with his brilliant acting and comedic ways. It had also been awhile since we had done one of our annual Summer Camp shows and I was missing that experience. I floated the idea doing a Christmas Camp show with all of us and everyone jumped on board. And based on advance ticket sales, it seems like people are eager to see something new!
Brandy Joe Plambeck: We each had done SantaLand Diaries ten times and felt that it was time to do something new and fresh. It seems that is what the audiences wanted as well as the show is selling like crazy!
BWW Detroit: Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
Joe Bailey: My favorite moment in Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) is really just being able to play with Brandy Joe and Richard. And we've added Kevin Kaminski to the mix, Dyan Bailey is directing, and it's just so much fun.
Brandy Joe Plambeck: I love the unpredictability of being on stage with my fellow actors. You never know when someone is going to veer from the script and provide some new bit of humor. You really have to be on your toes when you're on stage with Joe Bailey and Richard Payton. Kevin Kaminsky is also hilarious and I think the four of us are an awesome match.
BWW Detroit: Can people expect the usual Ringwald shenanigans and twists for this Christmas production?
Joe Bailey: I would say that audiences can definitely expect the usual Ringwald shenanigans for Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina).
Brandy Joe Plambeck: Most definitely! It's a little bit naughty, a little bit unexpected, and a lot of fun.
BWW Detroit: There's ongoing feud that people are either more of Joan Crawford or Bette Davis, since you two are married and heavily involved in the theatre world, who do you think your husband is more like and why?
Joe Bailey: I would say Brandy Joe is more of a Joan. He's a fantastic actor, but he really is a STAR!
BWW Detroit: Why should people come see Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina)?
Joe Bailey: Anyone looking for a fun alternative Christmas entertainment should come see Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina). It's not your usual A Christmas Carol, it's just something new and will hopefully relieve some of the stress that can come from preparing for the holidays. Just come and laugh with us!
Brandy Joe Plambeck: People should come and see this show because it is going to be a riot. Joe Bailey in a dress is something you should catch anytime it is possible. It will be a nice little break from traditional holiday fare that most places do. Come and have a good laugh!
Merry Christmas to Everyone! (Except Christina) runs December 17th through 23rd at The Ringwald Theatre. As of printing, all shows are sold out except for December 23rd at 5pm. It is highly suggested to reserve your tickets in advance online as they are selling out fast for this limited run! For more information and tickets, visit www.theringwald.com.
The Ringwald Theatre's next production is a contemporary comedy called, Significant Other, that takes on the stereotypes of the "gay best friend" and takes aim at at the lives of late-twentysomethings in the early 21st century. Significant Other runs January 4th through January 28th and you can find more information about it on The Ringwald's website.